I love the latest sex discrimination tale concerning the menopausal Mary Bassi who at the age of 56 was sacked as a stripper in Houston, Texas. Call me old fashioned, but I kind of empathise with her bosses. I mean, if you’re a bloke and out for a night on the seedier side of town, surely you would want to see young, or at least younger flesh?
Then again, I am tempted to shout hurrah for Bassi who had the bloody nerve to carry on wanting to expose herself well past the days where I (a year older than Bassi when she was sacked) am reticent to wear a swimsuit unless it’s an Edwardian bathing garment, mop cap, et al.
In fact, I had a horrid reality check the other day when I found myself in front of three full-length mirrors while attempting to find a dress in the New Year sales. Even though I keep myself fit – yoga, gym, tap dancing, cycling, etc, there is no getting away from it, my body is not what it used to be. But, I told myself severely over a reviving cup of tea, in evolutionary terms my just-short-of-60 body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Age.
As I am sure most of you will agree, this growing older business isn’t much fun, especially when you’ve been used to ogles and stares. Since crossing the threshold of post menopause I have certainly struggled with the loss of my youth and looks. I finally gave into it because I realised it was going to cause me a lot of pain and anguish if I didn’t.
Gradually I began to take pleasure in seeing life from a different perspective. Now I really enjoy it. I like knowing my life so far has been one hell of a ride, and I have survived – as one friend commented wryly – in spite of myself. I like feeling emotionally safe because of learning from what I’ve been through. And, I hope I put these lessons to good use in the work I now do as a therapist and a writer. Something I could not have done as a younger woman.
More than anything else, I am relieved that I am no longer driven by the need to use my sexuality to be noticed. Yes, sometimes I do feel invisible and ignored, but that’s what happens when we live in a highly sexualized and youth-obsessed society. It’s impossible for older women, as Bassi found out, to compete with that. As we mature, we (men and women) need to find different ways of making our lives fulfilling and purposeful.
So I would say to Ms Bassi, good on you gal for winning a $60,000 settlement from your former employers. But don’t waste it on cosmetic surgery. You’re now in your 60s, and, whatever you do to yourself, you can’t turn the clocks back. Instead, use what you have learnt – and my goodness, you must have seen and heard it all – and become an inspirational older woman to us all.